Eastern’s alert was handled poorly

Jessica Stewart

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As you may have heard, Tuesday morning there was a security threat to campus. When I first got the Alert EIU email, I immediately assumed it was a shooter situation, as did several others I discussed it with. However, the email never specifically said what the threat was.

I read the email right before walking upstairs in Coleman Hall for a class, and I stood there for a minute debating on whether I should continue on to class or turn around and return home. I decided to go to class, but I couldn’t focus on anything.

The door to the classroom was open, and all I could think the whole time was that someone could easily walk right in. Then halfway through class, someone in the back of the room got up and left.

Then someone interrupted the professor and said there was a shooter in Douglas Hall. Then the professor closed the door.

I don’t think Eastern did a very good job at keeping its students and faculty informed on the situation. They sent out an initial email alerting us of a “potential threat to campus,” but it was too vague and left a lot up to interpretation.

In the world we live in where school shootings are so common, any type of unnamed school threat is automatically assumed to be a shooter.

I understand they were probably trying to minimize the fear, but the fear was there anyway.

Why didn’t the university give us more information? Again, they could have been trying to not cause a panic among students. This, however, proved not to be as big of a deal as they thought because people already assumed it was a shooter.

With the little information given to them, students tried to figure out what was actually going on. This led to rumors being spread and things taken out of context.

I saw a video of a police officer holding a rifle and then was told that a student was seen holding a rifle. I heard many rumors of a shooter in the South Quad, when in reality the threat was on the complete other side of campus.

They said to be aware, but we weren’t certain what to be aware of. I was getting better information from The Daily Eastern News’ Facebook page than I was directly from the university.

It is important for universities to be upfront with their students and faculty when it comes to potential shooter situations. When a notice this vague is given, we all assume it means a shooter anyway, so there is no point in trying to keep that hidden.

Students and faculty feel safer when they have all of the information, even if it may be scary information. At least we aren’t assuming the worst.

Jessica Stewart is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].